Because of advances in technology, there are some people murmuring that the art of photography is lost and everyone is now a photographer because of automatic settings and digital technology. But I say, not so fast!
First, it still pays to know something about composition, lighting, and other photography skills to make good pictures. So, even though my iPhone 6 is capable of taking amazing images, that’s only half of photography. Second, the skill sets and effort needed for film photography will continue to set it apart as an art form from the everyday digital image.
While you can still purchase film and have it developed at places like Walmart and Walgreens, these days it’s rare to see film photography used by the general public. But this platform is far from dead, because it has an artistic quality that digital technology cannot replace any more than film photography has replaced painting, sculpting, and other forms of long-established visual arts. The skill required and the raw and unique elements of these formats are in large part what qualify them as fine arts.
Film has something that digital just can’t match. It’s a look and a feel…sometimes it’s even that grain in the dark areas that no digital technology, or post-production software like Photoshop can adequately replicate. It’s the colors that each kind of film uniquely creates, and the blending and range of those colors. More importantly, the range of light is decidedly greater on film than on digital. In other words, the “shades of gray” between total black and total white are thousands of times greater on film.
The realm of expensive digital cameras now boasts a 50 megapixel camera just released by Canon, which was preceded by 30mp cameras. With large format film, think gigapixels–meaning that film has a greater capability to be enlarged without loss of quality/resolution. And forget about black and white; no digital image can ever replace an image on silver film.
But not just anyone can capture good film photography–not without a lot of time studying, practicing, and developing the skill. You can’t just point and click. Most film cameras require that a user know how to manually adjust the shutter speed, aperture, and the film speed based on the light and other conditions in your shoot. Usually, those with enough skill have also mastered the non-camera side of photography as well, e.g. lighting, choosing subjects, composition–and invariably possess a passion for the art. Those people will make images most cannot.
Bear in mind that you’ll need to mail-order good film for development, or do it yourself in your own darkroom. For the casual photographer, it’s too costly and too much of a hassle. But it’s precisely the hassle that fine art requires; the passion and effort that has gone into it. It helps create a rarity, a preciousness, that comprise a major component of what art enthusiasts appreciate.
As film photography becomes ever rarer, it shall become accordingly more appreciated. Oddly enough, technology won’t be improving just digital photography, but also film. Film-makers are still finding better ways to make film. And ever improving scanning technology has only made film look better in digital format. Some good news for enthusiasts of analog photography is that a great film camera only costs between $100 – $400, and makes far better pictures than the even $2000-$5000 digital DSLRs.
It’s alive…ALIVE, I SAY!!!